Taste of success

This Sunday, as you stroll the grounds of Smith’s Tropical Paradise, the mouth waters and the tummy growls in anticipation of the next surprising indulgence.

While cradling that plate loaded with grilled ono, topped in micro-greens and drizzled with balsamic reduction sauce, consider the many ways the $50,000 expected to be raised at the 27th annual Taste of Hawaii, by the Rotary Club of Kapaa, can benefit Kauai’s young people.

With a donation of $103,800 to Aloha Angels, a donor advised fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation, the club’s foundation is using proceeds from previous Taste events to provide $700 to each elementary-grade teacher at Kapaa and Kekaha this fall, for classroom supplies and a field trip. It is also funding five after-school clubs at Kapaa Elementary.

With $25,000 of its donation to Aloha Angels, Kapaa Rotary has taken a leadership role in bringing Junior Achievement to Kauai. Junior Achievement is an international youth program focused on financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work readiness.

While students on Oahu and the Big Island have access to these programs, Kauai students, until earlier this year, did not.

The donation will enable Junior Achievement to expand its operation on Kauai, with a goal of reaching every island student in the next 5-7 years.

Freshman English educator Cheryl Morita invited Hanalei Bay Rotarian Chris Young, co-chair of Junior Achievement Kauai, to lead both personal finance and entrepreneurship activities.

“He got them thinking about what they could contribute to Kauai,” Morita said.

Responding to one student’s idea for a bicycle-powered fruit cart to drive along the beach path, Young had students plan the business cost, and logistically, what it would take to get the licensing to operate on county property.

“Chris gave them sound advice,” she said. “And even better: They weren’t hearing it from a teacher.”

Principal Daniel Hamada is excited at the prospect of all Kapaa High School students graduating with a foundation of financial literacy, taught by financial experts and business people, in partnership with the classroom teacher.

This past school year, nearly 400 students participated in Junior Achievement classes at Kapaa High School.

“We are so grateful to the Kapaa Rotary members, who have a big vision and a big heart for all our island kids,” Young said. “Thanks to them, we can grow our programs with confidence—and provide Kauai kids with a solid platform for success on whatever path they choose.”

Assisting young people has been a hallmark of Kapaa Rotary since the club was founded in 1985. In the past 30 years, proceeds from Taste have helped fund scholarships for high school seniors and vocational scholarships for college students each year. Scholarships for Rotary’s Youth Leadership Camps for high school sophomores and juniors are provided annually also.

The club even built the Boys and Girls Club in Kapaa, adding a full-size basketball court to the clubhouse in 2012.

Rotary Club President James Norman says Taste of Hawaii makes all these types of donations and activities possible. He notes that all Rotarians worldwide do the things they do as volunteers, making time for their Rotary activities aside from their employment. He estimates that some Kapaa Rotarians dedicate as many as 250 hours each year, unpaid, to make Taste of Hawaii happen

“We are proud to lend a hand to all our island keiki, especially those who need it the most,” said Taste Chair Ron Margolis. “We love being able, thanks to everyone who supports Taste of Hawaii, to help others.”

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